Laboratory Analysis of a Leaking Letdown Cooler from Oconee Unit 3

  • James HyresEmail author
  • Rocky Thompson
  • Jim Batton
Conference paper
Part of the The Minerals, Metals & Materials Series book series (MMMS)


This paper covers the results of laboratory examinations performed on a leaking letdown cooler from Oconee Unit 3. The laboratory scope included dewatering, pressure testing, visual inspections, metallography, Vickers micro-hardness, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), and Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES). The laboratory examinations identified one tube containing a through-wall crack. The most likely cause of the crack appeared to be OD-initiated caustic stress corrosion cracking (SCC). The presence of heavy deposits on the tube OD surface and heat tinting on the primary and secondary flow seals indicated boiling occurred near the tight radius region of the bundle. Once boiling occurred, caustic-forming species such as calcium phosphate deposited and concentrated on the tube OD surface. The literature indicates as caustic concentrations approach ~20%, the conditions become favorable for caustic SCC to occur in austenitic stainless steels such as Type 316L.


Letdown cooler Type 316L stainless steel tubing Intergranular stress corrosion cracking Caustic stress corrosion cracking 


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BWX Technologies, Inc.LynchburgUSA
  2. 2.Duke EnergyCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.Duke Energy, Oconee Nuclear StationSenecaUSA

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